Also, anyone ever get that thing where one ear loses all hearing for about five seconds, aside from a loud high pitch sound? I get this every once in a while, but for some reason never really though much about it.
That's because for some people, it's kind of quiet and in the background. That's me - most of the time, but sometimes IT GETS REALLY FUCKING LOUD and it's hard to ignore something like that. I assume that's what it's like for the people who seek medical or newage help.
Doctors traditionally have distinguished between objective or "real" tinnitus and subjective or "false" tinnitus. In objective tinnitus an actual sound can be detected with a stethoscope or, in the odd case, simply by standing near the patient. The noise may arise from some deformation of the blood vessels, in which case it may signal a tumor or aneurysm; twitching of the muscles of the middle ear; a eustachian tube that remains open when it shouldn't; and so on.
Subjective tinnitus, which is far more common, is tougher to pin down. Clinicians caution that tinnitus should be considered a symptom of some larger problem, and in fact it's often associated with other symptoms like hearing loss or dizziness. But in many cases no definite cause can be established. "Subjective tinnitus . . . is presumed to originate from some type of electrophysiologic derangement in the cochlea, cranial nerve VIII, or central nervous system," one Mayo Clinic review notes, but beyond that the subject remains mysterious.
I guess I wasn't being clear. When I say REALLY LOUD, I mean loud enough to drown out normal conversation. That's not a psychological, it-just-seems-louder-because-I'm-paying-attention effect. It really is a lot louder.
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